London clinicians have become the first in the UK to harness the power of robotics to assess lung cancer, in a move that could significantly speed up cancer diagnoses.
The technology in question is Intuitive’s Ion Endoluminal System, which allows health professionals to insert a thin catheter into a patient’s lung through their mouth to reach suspected cancerous lung nodules.
The technology facilitates greater accuracy along with improved accessibility to hard-to-reach areas compared to existing techniques, meaning clinicians can come to a definitive diagnosis earlier and thus give patients the best chance of a positive outcome.
The robotic technology is being trialled as part of a clinical study at London’s Royal Brompton and St Bartholomew’s hospitals.
The news comes shortly after the government announced plans to launch a new targeted lung cancer screening programme in June.
The expansion means more suspicious nodules will be detected and, by leveraging the technology’s capabilities, clinicians can offer patients a more definitive diagnosis at an earlier stage.
Professor Pallav Shah, who is a consultant respiratory physician based at Royal Brompton Hospital, explained why this would be so important. He said: “We know that an earlier diagnosis of lung cancer leads to significantly improved outcomes for our patients.
“When we see patients with cancerous lung nodules of more than 30mm, their five year survival rate is around 68%, but if we are able to detect these nodules at a smaller size, when they are less than 10mm in size, we are looking at a 92% survival rate.
“This new technology is transformative for us as clinicians because it allows us to access and biopsy nodules of less than 10mm in size in difficult to reach areas of the lungs.”
This comes against the backdrop of lung cancer being the deadliest form of the disease in the UK, with more than two-thirds of cases being detected at a later stage.
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